September 25, 2020
Albany, NY

Video, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo Delivers Remarks at the Human Rights Campaign “Unite for Equality Live” National Event

TOP Video, Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor...

Governor Cuomo: "Unity will only be restored when this nation fulfills its promise of equality. Equality for all, equality of race, equality of religion, and equality of sexual orientation and gender identity. New York stands as a testament to that proposition. We are a diverse state. We are all different. We grew up different. Our diversity and differences have made us sensitive to discrimination and exclusion, and it has made us determined to the proposition of equality. We have zero tolerance for discrimination, and we define progressive politics as the aggressive pursuit and achievement of equality. That's why New York has always led the nation on equality and LGBTQ rights."

 

Cuomo: "New York, home of the NAACP, of the Seneca Falls Women's Convention, home of Stonewall, has always been at the heart of the march towards equal rights for all. And while our nation's march has been slow, too slow, together we have always pushed it forward. New York has shown that unity works."

WYSIWYG

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered remarks by video at the Human Rights Campaign's "Unite for Equality Live" online national event.

 

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

 

AUDIO of today's remarks is available here.

 

A rush transcript of tonight's remarks is available below:

 

Alphonso David: When you look up leadership in the dictionary, you will find the name and the picture of this next speaker. Over the past year, he has emerged as a definitive voice people can turn to in times of turmoil. Governor Andrew Cuomo has helped New Yorkers and Americans protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19 when the federal government simply failed to act. He defined the narrative, developed solutions and achieved results. In other words, he led. We all owe him a debt of gratitude and we recognize him tonight for his tireless work. I am proud to have worked with him, and proud to have him join us this evening.

 

Governor Cuomo: Good evening. I'm Governor Andrew Cuomo. I'd like to thank my dear friend, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, for inviting me to join you this evening. Alphonso was my counsel in the capitol for eight years, and worked with me as attorney general for four years before that. That's 12 years altogether, and yes, he was 18 years old when he started. Alphonso was instrumental in enacting the most progressive agenda in the United States of America. That's what we have in the State of New York and we're proud of it. I miss his insight, conviction and humor. But I'm glad his talent is being put to use in a cause that is dear to me and the entire family of New York.

 

It's good to be back with all of you again. The last time I had the privilege of addressing this great organization was back in February at the annual gala. It feels like a lifetime ago, and tonight's virtual gala shows just how much our world has changed in the interim. We are all now learning the lessons of COVID, and we're paying too high a price. 200,000 lives lost. We've learned the hard way that denial doesn't work. deceiving the American people doesn't work. Running from a challenge doesn't work. Government incompetence doesn't work. Failed leadership doesn't work.

 

But there's a deeper lesson also, because the virus was a metaphor. A virus attacks the body when the body is weak, when the immune system is compromised. And the American body politic was weak. It was weakened by division. We're more divided today as a country than we've been at any time since the Civil War. We've seen increasing racial tensions all across the country. We've seen more anti-Semitic attacks all across the country. We've seen the KKK march in Charlottesville, where they were so emboldened they didn't even wear hoods. We've seen children at the border put in cages. And we've seen increased tensions against the LGBTQ community. This division weakened the American body politic so that the virus could attack us. And we could not rally to defend ourselves.

 

To overcome this virus, we must restore our unity. The only way to stop the viral transmission, to beat community spread, is by forging community. The only way to protect yourself is by coming together and protecting one another. We needed to keep ourselves safe, but we could only keep ourselves safe if we also kept others safe, by wearing masks and socially distancing, and being smart one for another. The question is not to choose between I or we. It never is. The answer is always both. Only unity, only community works. As Rabbi Hillel said, if I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I?

 

And unity will only be restored when this nation fulfills its promise of equality. Equality for all, equality of race, equality of religion, and equality of sexual orientation and gender identity. New York stands as a testament to that proposition. We are a diverse state. We are all different. We grew up different. Our diversity and differences have made us sensitive to discrimination and exclusion, and it has made us determined to the proposition of equality. We have zero tolerance for discrimination, and we define progressive politics as the aggressive pursuit and achievement of equality. That's why New York has always led the nation on equality and LGBTQ rights. That's why New York was the first big state in the country to legalize same sex marriage, I'm proud to say. That's why we banned discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. That's why we banned the gay and trans panic defense. That's why we banned conversion therapy. That's why we passed GENDA. That's why we expanded coverage and enshrined the critical protections from the Affordable Care Act. That's why we passed the Reproductive Health Act and codified Roe v. Wade into state law, because we were afraid the Supreme Court would try to reverse it. And it's why just last month we dedicated the first state park named for an LGBTQ person in the country, the Marsha P. Johnson Park on the East River in Brooklyn.

 

New York, home of the NAACP, of the Seneca Falls Women's Convention, home of Stonewall, has always been at the heart of the march towards equal rights for all. And while our nation's march has been slow, too slow, together we have always pushed it forward. New York has shown that unity works. We were ambushed by COVID. It moved from China last January and February and traveled to Europe, and from Europe to New York. Our incompetent federal government never even knew it arrived in the United States until months later, and by then, the virus spread to thousands.

 

We had the worst problem on the globe. We went through 111 days of hell. But, we went from the highest infection rate in the country to the lowest, because we came together and we protected one another. We've shown what we can achieve when we are united. We've shown what this nation can achieve. And working together, New York and the HRC, we will continue this crusade for justice. We will fight the good fight. And we will win, and we will do it together. Thank you all very much and enjoy the evening.

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